The first thing: something I wrote 

When I was cleaning and thinking, this is what I was thinking about. Here is the something I wrote, that I gave to Bea to read.
The first thing I kept thinking about is the email I sent you, and your later than usual reply. I wasn’t upset because logically I understand that things happen, you are very busy, and that you did email and even acknowledged that you had meant to write back and hadn’t had time. But, and this is that big scary but (at least for me) emotionally, it’s not that simple. It felt like I had finally let something out, after holding so much in for months, and you weren’t there. It felt like maybe you had decided I was “better” or something, so I maybe didn’t need a reply as quickly as I used to. I don’t know. And then when you did reply, some of the reply felt like I’m expected to cope all the time now, and not fall apart, or end up in the bubble, because I coped this summer. It felt like because I was able to function this summer, and able to still be aware that I was shoving things away, burying them in a box until it was a better time to deal with them, that I’m expected to function like that all the time now. Which led to thoughts of “Bea thinks I’m just a drama queen. Bea is annoyed with me and my meltdowns. Bea is tired of dealing with me. Bea is sick and tired of needy broken Alice and she likes coping Alice a lot better. Bea thinks I should be over this crap by now, and is tired of hearing me whine.” And so on, and so on. And while most of me is pretty sure those are crazy thoughts and not true, a part of me is pretty sure they are true. And I’m pretty sure you attempted to talk about some of this that next session with me; I really wasn’t very there. I think I dissociated enough that I don’t remember that conversation very well at all. As soon as you brought up the email, I felt frozen and scared and like this was too much. I know I didn’t say a lot. I hate talking about the relationship. I hate talking about hurt feelings, or stupid thoughts like the ones I just wrote down. It’s so uncomfortable. Really, calling it uncomfortable is like saying that a severed finger is “just a scratch”. But I feel like somehow we need to talk about this, i just have no idea how to do that. Just writing this is making me sick to my stomach and itchy (did you know I sometimes break out in hives when I’m really anxious or upset?). And I think the little girl is sort of wary again, in a way. Because I trust you, because logically you have never given me a reason not to, because you’ve always done everything you’ve said you are going to do, and because you really hear me, because you see me and still accept me But I think the little girl is afraid of the new expectations (possibly perceived, but still very real to her), and afraid to fail and have you go away because of that. She’s afraid if she does reach out, you might not be there now. I actually went back and forth about emailing you again, that weekend, to ask if you had gotten my email, or if you thought I was crazy, or if you were mad that I had said I just couldn’t talk about the eating stuff. I even wrote an email asking those things, talking about you not emailing back, and hurt feelings. I just didn’t send it. Actually, I think, it feels like the little girl decided not to send it; she needed you to email without her asking you to. A test, I guess, maybe. Stupid. Childish. I hate that. So. I guess this is important to talk about. But I don’t like it. It scares me to talk about all this. And that’s another thing; I don’t understand why this is all so scary and hard to talk about. And it’s not just with you. It’s with hubby, Kay, Rebecca, Jamie. (obviously my parents, but that is them as much as me, I think) It’s anyone I am close to. I don’t know. I think I haven’t really talked to Kay for months because I don’t want to discuss the uncomfortable stuff, and she will. She is fine with it. And Jaime? She hurt my feelings, not on purpose, and we talked it out through text and it’s fine, we are okay, except we aren’t because I still feel like there is this weirdness there and she is mad at me or doesn’t like me anymore or whatever. I don’t know. Ugh. And before I would have just ignored it all and pretended everything was fine, and maybe have been so stuck in my head that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because I wouldn’t have felt any of this. But now. Well, I can’t pretend it’s all okay. But I don’t know how to talk through it either. Ugh. This is so frustrating to me, I’m angry with myself for not being able to act like a grown up and have a simple conversation. 
I thought a lot about the whole ABA tech triggering me thing because she doesn’t do any repair with Kat, and pretends everything is perfect and fine. And I thought a lot about being punished for my emotions; whether it was concrete punishment or just my parents not being there emotionally. And I just, well, I don’t know exactly what, but this all feels really very significant. These triggers, like this, over well, I don’t know how to put it, just normal daily stuff, not trauma stuff, it’s just…ridiculous. I feel like I’m being…I don’t know what. Silly, maybe. But, either way, I can see it so clearly now. Friday, watching Kat and the tech and listening to them, I could just see it, and see exactly how it could remind me of my parents and pretending everything is okay. I kept thinking how I was punished for bad emotions. Anger. Sad. Anxiety. Anything really that isn’t upbeat, happy. I don’t know. And I wonder if that is why it’s so hard for me to cry around people. I mean, I cry in front of you now, but even hubby, I run to the bedroom, and hide if I’m going to cry. I feel almost….guilty, or something, for subjecting others to my bad emotions. Maybe shame. I don’t know, exactly. It’s like I’ve done some thing wrong. And seeing, naming the fact I got punished for feelings, it makes sense why I always feel like I am being bad for feeling certain things– sadness, anxiety, fear, frustration. And anger. Ugh, anger. I don’t know what to do with anger. And I wonder if it’s because I just never was allowed to be angry. And now….I don’t know. How does a person let out the mad feelings without turning into a monster? I mean, emotions like sadness are easier, in a way, because you cry, and you feel the feelings and maybe talk about where they are coming from, but you cry and get the sad out. But what in the world does a person do to get out anger? 
I was so angry with hubby for so much of this weekend. I snapped a few times. Mostly I just made those awful passive aggressive comments– the way he usually does. And I hate that. I don’t like that Alice. I don’t want to be that angry passive aggressive person. But I just….I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. And I can’t even explain the anger I have toward him, except it’s just this general feeling of him not being there and not seeing me and not hearing me, not paying attention. It’s that trigger of “he doesn’t care enough to see me or hear me”. And no matter how many times I try to explain, he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care to. I don’t know. 
And thinking about how much they pretended everything was okay, leads me to thinking about how they are no longer pretending. And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that. It scares me. Because that means the story I have told all along is real. I can’t fall back on the fact I the only one telling it, I must be crazy, I must be a liar, making stuff up, ext, ext. If means that everything was that crazy making, that ugly, that…I don’t know what. And I still….well, I think, like you said on Thursday, even though we have talked about it, it is still so taboo and it feels far away and very separate and is hard to bring up…..I think it’s because I keep it separate, in a way, like, I keep it in that realm of “this MIGHT not be real, so it’s not REALLY part of my story, not really”….I don’t know if that even makes sense. I just know I am afraid of my parents being more real. It terrifies me. Like makes my insides feel frozen, and my chest tight, and I can’t breathe and my body feels frozen, too, and I feel like I need to run away and hide. It doesn’t feel safe. It’s like my safety net is being taken away, and my story is real. Which really, really scares me. 
My nightmare is back. The boyfriend nightmare. Where he is listing everything out. Sometimes it’s different….times…but always, his voice, listing things out. I don’t know. Maybe I need to talk about this, about him. But how am I supposed to talk about this, when I can’t even write it down, because of the words? Ugh. I hate how afraid I am of certain words. It’s ridiculous. And I head his voice in my head, telling me that no one is going to want me now, I’m ruined, a slut. And then I wonder if hubby had known me, instead of fake perfect me, if he would have wanted me still? Because I sometimes think he is refusing to see me, because he is waiting for the me he married to come back. 

I think I need a map

Bea wrote me back. She was kind, and reminded me that even though the little girl feels threatened and scared, she is safe now, Kat is safe now, everyone is currently safe now.

She also said this:

It’s not this story OR that story, this family OR that family; it’s this story AND that story, this family AND that family.

Which got me thinking…….

When I read this, it makes so much sense. When you say every version, every story has truth in it, and they all are connected, it makes sense. But it makes a kind of sense in a broad, generalized way. It makes sense in a “this is how the world works, many layers, all with their own truth but that truth doesn’t take away the truth in a different layer of the story” kind of way. When I apply it to my life, it’s too messy. Maybe I don’t like multifaceted stories when the story is MY story. Things are much simpler when it is 1 OR 2, not 1 AND 2. I don’t know how to fit both stories together. It scares me.

As long as I can say that I am the only one saying things weren’t okay, weren’t perfect, as long as I am the only one saying there was a lot of ugly and my family did all they could to hide the ugly under the rug….I don’t know. It meant I could be wrong. It meant that maybe I really was crazy, or lying or just being a drama queen over normal life events. It meant that nothing was as bad as I feel. It meant that things probably were perfect and maybe I just never was good enough; I was too sensitive, too emotional, a drama queen.

But now….now my mom is talking and telling a different sort of story. And that changes everything. Because it means I’m not crazy. It means I’m not making things up. It means that it’s all real; everything I have said and felt and thought about them hiding truths and burying ugly stuff and being unable to deal with bad emotions. It’s all true. And even though I’ve had some conversations with my mom in the past year that felt like she was telling me in a round about way– through saying we were doing the right things with our kid, and teaching her to feel all her feelings and validating them and always striving to be honest and transparent with her– and that she wishes she could have a do over and raise my brother and I that way…well, this is different. She’s being very straight forward. I don’t know how to respond or feel. In truth, I feel frozen when she is being so honest. It scares me. If everything I felt about my family is true, and being validated now…it means that I didn’t make up what happened with Kenny. It means it wasn’t just a silly game, and a silly crush, like I told myself for years. It means it all happened and it really was that bad.

I feel like I need a map to understand all of this, some sort of paper with everything laid out and all the puzzle pieces fitted together. It’s all swimming around in my head in choppy waters. I can’t sort it. And as soon as I think I am getting it sorted, it all breaks apart. I need a timeline, a map, something. I don’t know. I need to actually SEE both stories put together. I need to see how that works, what it looks like. Then maybe I can understand what it means. Maybe then I can make sense of it all. Or maybe that is a silly idea, and will never work, because how do you map a life, map a history of not just one person, but of their family history, just to combine it all together and figure out how that person got here? Is that even possible?

Maybe I should show up to therapy on Thursday with one of those giant rolls of paper and my colored pencils and sharpie markers. Maybe it’s time to make an “art project” in therapy. I’m sure Bea would say okay, and be fine with that. But can I really make a map? And can I really show up and be that directive in therapy? I don’t know.